Elizabeth Knox Online

Today – March 8,2012 – is International Women’s Day.

International Women’s Day has been observed since 1909. Depending on the country, celebrations range from a Valentine’s Day-type acknowledgement of love to a rally for equal opportunities, equal rights and equal pay for women.

In the United States, President Obama declared March as Women’s History Month in 2011. This past weekend he issued a proclamation about its importance.

The 2012 United Nations’ theme for International Women’s Day is “Empower Women – End Hunger and Poverty."

The US Agency for International Development did an infographic highlighting the difference that investments in women can make in the communities and economies around them.

For most women who grew up in the US in the 1960s or later we don’t face child marriage or threats by our parents to take us out of school. However, you only need to go back one generation to find women who experienced these challenges firsthand.

But let’s start closer to home: what can you do to empower the women around you? Your friends, your daughters, your nieces, your neighbors?

  • In your immediate circle: do you know some young women who could use your insight and experience as they navigate their professional waters? Ask one of them out for coffee, listen to her, ask her questions to help her recognize her potential.
  • In your community: do you know a local Girl Scout leader? Call her and ask what badges the girls are working on in the next few months and see how you can help them learn new skills.
  • In your world: look into programs like World Vision where you can sponsor a young girl’s education. Another organization, Opportunity International, helps you provide a microloan to a woman earning a livelihood for her family. Give Well provides a list of charities that are women-focused here.

This week, in honor of International Women’s Day, find a way to encourage another woman in your circle, your community or the world. Take an idea from above or come up with your own! Then share your experience down in the comments.


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